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‘We Represent the American Dream’: Geneva Karr and Xunami Muse Make Herstory As First DACA Recipients To Compete On RuPaul’s Drag Race

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Two contestants are making herstory on the new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Geneva Karr, who is originally from Mexico and lives in Texas, and Xunami Muse, who is originally from Panama and lives in New York, are the first DACA recipients to compete on the Emmy winning series, which is now in its 16th season. During a candid moment, the two shared their stories and how the immigration program has helped them become a part of a pop culture phenomenon.

“My parents brought me over to the United States when I was around seven years old,” Karr told Muse. “So that’s what they decided, to come over here to give myself and my brother that was just born at the time better opportunities and a better life. You know, the American Dream.” Muse, in a moment of recognition, asks, “Are you a Dreamer?” Karr replies, “Yes!” Muse then revealed she was a Dreamer too.

“I really didn’t really know what I was going to do if [DACA] hadn’t gone through,” Karr said. Noticing one of the other queens overhearing their conversation, Karr told her – and viewers – how the program allows beneficiaries like Karr, Muse, and roughly 600,000 others to live and work legally in the United States. To borrow some drag lingo, she educated the children. DACA, Muse said, allows eligible immigrants to apply for “a work permit and, you know, a Social Security number so that they can be another member of this society. DACA is why I’m able to, like, legally work, and also be on Drag Race.”  

But the queens were also frank about challenges and ongoing worries they face as DACA beneficiaries today. “So when it comes to DACA, we’re kind of always, like, not 100 percent, I guess, feel safe because at any time they can just be like, ‘You know what? We’re going to take this away from you,’” Karr said. “And it’s very scary to think that that could be a possibility.” 

While the Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that the Trump administration had unlawfully ended DACA, the program is hanging on by a thread due to ongoing lawsuits launched by corrupt Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and a number of other Republican-run states. Ultimately, it remains up to Congress to act on permanent relief, something overwhelmingly supported by most Americans.

“Unfortunately, there are certain obstacles that we face, sometimes in silence,” Muse told Rolling Stone. “By speaking out, the audience will get to see another side of what we go through, and maybe it’ll push politicians to come up with a solution because there still isn’t a clear path to citizenship for us.”

The continued legal fight over DACA only heightens the significance of two of the program’s beneficiaries competing in this new season. “Karr says she’s already received messages from viewers thanking her for the visibility she is bringing to overlooked communities in drag and on TV,” the Houston Chronicle reported.

Casting has been diverse throughout Drag Race’s run. Bebe Zahara Benet, winner of the very first season of the show, is an immigrant from Cameroon. Ongina, who also competed on season one of Drag Race and season five of its all-stars spin-off, is originally from the Philippines. Season 11’s Mercedes Iman Diamond, the first Muslim-American to compete on the show, is originally from Kenya. Plastique Tiara, also from season 11, is originally from Vietnam. Aura Mayari, from season 15, is originally from the Philippines.

“We represent the American dream, we are proof that hard work pays off,” Karr told Rolling Stone. “It really warms my heart to know DACA recipients are feeling represented and seen on this new season of Drag Race.” Of course, it’s not just about what they represent, it’s also about the contestants being able to pursue their own dreams and artistry. Muse told the outlet that growing up, “there was this pressure of being a model citizen, and well guess what? We are these model citizens. All I want to do is spread my joy and do my drag and make people laugh and smile.”

Good luck to all the contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16 – and may the best drag queen win!